and Sweet Bamboo
| Sugar is plentiful in China, as is honey,
artificial sweeteners, and other things like sweet bamboo
that you may not have come across before.
I use granulated sugar bought from the local wet market,
and this is not as highly refined as in the west. I
prefer it! Common sugar is very cheap with a pound weight
costing a few RMB. However you will pay more in supermarkets
for pre-packaged and highly refined sugars, but the
taste is not as good as the cheaper versions sold on
the local streets.
Chinese supermarkets offer many versions of granulated
sugar, and better stores also stock sugar crystals
and cubes, caster sugar, icing sugar, muscovado
sugar, brown sugar, and molasses. You can also
buy sugar substitutes (sweeteners).
We buy our sugar loose from the wet market, and
usually go for one of the middle refined versions
that retain a little golden pigment. The prices
are a lot cheaper than in the supermarket, and
you can fill the bag yourself.
This sugar tastes like cane sugar, not beet sugar,
but some may be made from sweet bamboo. This is
very similar in many respects to sugar cane.
Note: Many chefs cook with honey
or 'honey-stick' which are a solid form of molasses.
Honey is widely available in wetmarket's and supermarkets.
There is the same choice as in the west with the
main choices being liquid or solid, and locally
made vs large factory.
These are in fact a solidified form of molasses, are up to six-inches long, and are found in every Cantonese kitchen. Cantonese will regularly use one stick in place of salt, say to prepare a potaoto dish. Ghaustly!
Cantonese omelet is made using eggs, tomatoes,
and several pounds of this stuff, which to my
palate makes the dish revolting.
Recipe - Cantonese Omelet
Into a wok with a little oil add several ounces (Half a stick) of grated or diced sugar stick and heat until it dissolves. Break 4 eggs into a wok and whisk with a fork or pair of chopsticks. Heat and stir as the omelet forms, adding
half a pound of peeled tomatoes. Once the eggs are set, serve using a large bowl into which you tip this goo. Totally disgusting!
Sweet bamboo is grown by most local farmers and
is often available from street traders riding
around on 3-wheeled bicycles in cities. It is
deliciously sweet, so try some when you have the
chance. Locals eat this by stripping away the
outer bark with their teeth and chomping on what
remains - you may prefer to use a paring knife?
There are two versions of sweet bamboo, one original
and the other charred. The burnt one is favoured
and sweeter, but both are a real treat - especially
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